What does a year’s worth of location data sound like? (video)

22 Jul 2013

Image via Brian House

Media artist Brian House has found a unique use for his location data, using it to create an 11-minute musical experience recorded onto vinyl.

From 1 May 2011 and for a year that followed, House recorded his location data using OpenPaths, a secure location tracker for personal use that he helped to develop. He then took this information and assigned each city visited its own musical key and each location its own step on the musical scale.

The result is Quotidian Record, which has been recorded onto vinyl. This format provides more than just a contrast to the digital-age means of collecting the data. The centre of the circular record has been annotated with the 24 hours that make up a day and every spin of the record equates to one day in House’s life, so listeners can actually use the record to track his movements.

For the most part, the record documents House’s travels through New York City, but the names of other locations, like Colorado or Korea, appear here and there on the disc so users can jump from one place to another.


House figured that his daily routine and its repetitions could make for a pleasant aural experience, but he also sees his musical effort as somewhat of a warning around the data we produce on a daily basis and how that’s used. “There is a critical dimension in pointing out that data are always qualitative and mean different things depending on how they are cast,” he said to Wired. “Google and the NSA don’t have to get the final word.”

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic